The government is set to construct a Sh500 million modern tea factory in Mt Elgon, Bungoma County, to boost the crop’s production in the area and the country at large.
Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi said the new factory will be located at Kaberwa area.
The factory, he said, will ease the burden of farmers who struggle to transport their tea to Trans Nzoia County.
The CS said the move is part of wider plans by the government to boost tea farming in the country.
Before the completion of the factory, Mr Linturi said the government will support farmers to improve their tea farms.
“The new factory at Kaberwa will improve the livelihoods of locals and boost the economy of Bungoma County. President William Ruto has assured me that funds will be made available to ensure we complete the factory this year,” said Mr Linturi.
He said his ministry will also establish tea seedling nurseries in the county to support farmers with the right varieties.
Livestock Permanent Secretary Hillary Kimutai and Kenya Tea Development Authority chairman David Muni Ichoho hailed the government’s move, and urged farmers to take advantage of the project to boost tea production.
Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka said his administration is ready to partner with the national government to ensure completion of the factory.
He assured residents that a feasibility study was done in 2015 during his tenure.
“I want to encourage tea farmers in Bungoma and Western Kenya at large to take tea growing seriously because it's highly lucrative. My administration will ensure farmers have enough tree seedlings to start the profitable venture,” Mr Lusaka said.
National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula said the county deserves three factories due to the expected high production of tea in the area.
He said Bungoma County used to be a leading producer of coffee but previous regimes neglected the sector, adding that those responsible for coffee management are also to blame.
Mr Wetang'ula, however, warned those who are in charge of tea management to desist from exploiting farmers.
“We will not allow the same to happen to the tea sector and the new factory,” warned Mr Wetang'ula.
He rooted for the setting up of a tea research centre in Mt Elgon to boost production in the region.